Posted by & filed under Pirates & Politics, Publishing and Publishers. 4 comments

Updated below

Yes, I said I’m abandoning Amazon.  However, until I get forcibly removed from there and until I get a good grasp on the alternatives, I’m keeping my work up there, too.  In this spirit, I decided to move my short story CEASA, currently on Smashwords, onto Amazon.

I thought long and hard about what to put on the dreaded copyright page, and I decided simplicity was the best answer:

Amazon was not amused.  This lead to:

But turns out the problem isn’t my supremely eloquent wording.  The problem is public domain itself.  Read on:

Hello,

We are writing to you regarding the following book(s):

CEASA by Blythe, Aelius (AUTHOR) (ID: 2930728)

During a review of your KDP submission(s), we found content that is widely available on the web. You can do an online search for the content inside your book(s) to discover which sites are offering the content for free. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has their work claimed and sold by anyone else.

To confirm you have publishing rights to and control where you distribute the book(s), please provide all of the following information:

1.    The URLs for all websites where this content is published
2.    An explanation as to why the content is available online

If the books are in the public domain, please confirm this and include the information you used to make this determination. We may request additional information to confirm the public domain status.

Please respond within 5 days to title-submission@amazon.com, and include the title and ID of your books in your reply. Your book has been moved to a blocked status on your bookshelf until we receive the documentation requested. If we do not receive the requested documentation, your book will not be made available for sale.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit:

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us

Regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com

I was worried about this.

Amazon’s terms clearly state that they may ask for proof that a book is public domain and that it is somehow differentiated from other editions out there.  As the author, what proof do I have other than “I put it there” and “It’s my original work”?  So, again trying for simplicity, that’s exactly what I told them:

Dear Amazon,
My book CEASA (ID: 2930728) is available widely on the web because I put it there.  It is on Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/204910

And on my blog here: http://cheapassfiction.com/2012/07/14/51-shades-of-short-stories-1-ceasa/

Likewise, the story is in the public domain because I put it there through the Creative Commons “license” CC0 “No Rights Reserved”: http://creativecommons.org/about/cc0

I made this determination through carefully considering the sandbox lesson “Sharing is Caring.”  After all, fighting over copyrights leaves everyone with sand in the eyes.  Boo.

Amazon houses many public domain works whose company I would very much like to keep, and I’d love it if you approved CEASA to stand with them.

If you are interested, more information about CCo/Public domain in fiction is on my blog here:
Thanks!
~Aelius Blythe

And now, I wait.

I’m excited to see how this turns out.  As much as I want my books on Amazon, I want more to cut to the heart of this issue: what exactly is Amazon’s tolerance for never-copyrighted work?  Can booksellers accomodate something completely outside of copyright?  Even regular public domain work is only public domain because of copyright laws.  What about work that eschews it completely?  Where can we find a home?

Will post all responses, so stay tuned!

UPDATE:

Well, that was a more peaceful resolution than expected!  Amazon has accepted the “let’s not throw sand in each others eyes” defense and cleared CEASA for publication.  It is now settled in its new home. Of course, it will always remain free here.  This is Amazon’s response:

Hello Aelius,

Thank you for your cooperation in providing the requested information. Please resubmit the following book:

CEASA by Blythe, Aelius (AUTHOR) (ID: 2930728)

To resubmit a book for publishing:
1. Log in to your KDP account at http://kdp.amazon.com
2. In the “Your Book” section, click “Save and Continue.”
3. You’ll then be redirected to “Rights & Pricing” where you’ll need to reconfirm Content Rights.
4. Click “Save and Publish” at the bottom of the screen.

If you have any questions regarding the review process, you can write to us at title-submission@amazon.com.

To contact us regarding a different issue, please visit: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us

Best regards,

Aaron W.
Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.
http://www.amazon.com/your-account

Final note:  This is clearly a standard, form-letter response.  And while I am happy  this has turned out well for CEASA, time will tell whether Amazon will truly embrace the inevitable wave of liberated fiction headed its way. I, for one, will be watching from the edge of my seat.

4 Responses to “Amazon, Public Domain, And Fucking Copyright”

  1. John Garrett

    This could end up setting a precedent. We’re on the verge of something big here. It might be called “The Aelius Rule” or something similar.

    I suspect you’ll end up getting a form letter from Amazon and then end up unceremoniously removed. If you move all your work from there I’ll just have to repost my review over at Smashwords 😛

    Reply
    • aeliusblythe

      Yeah, I can see forcing Amazon to the crossroads. I may be the only one doing this NOW, but it won’t be long before we see a much larger group – and a much more varied one – representing free culture (whether that is through other Creative Commons licenses, Public Domain or something new!) And Amazon, and all other publishers will either have to adapt their policy or…. well, I guess we’ll see won’t we?

      But, at least in this case, they have accepted my CC0 stuff – just got the email from Amazon! Will post later, when I get back. But I am just one person flying relatively under the radar. What happens when more and more creators start telling copyright to fuck off?

      Reply

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